Engineer Larry broke out in a cold sweat when asked him about the blood stained manacles hanging from the ceiling in the engine room

We were enroute to Roca Partida all night, arriving around 730. It was interesting trying to sleep with the boat rocking in the swell of the waves. Your head would rise, then fall, then roll to the left or right, then rise again, and there was a brief moment where it felt like a fat person accidentally sat on my head. Every 5 minutes.

Nevertheless, Roca Partida is an inspiring site, surrounded by 10-12 foot swells, dolphins breaching by the dozens, and here sits this little rock in the middle of nowhere, covered in fragrant bird droppings. I believe I will call it “La Roca Del Guano”. The first dive was cancelled, because the crew all had severe hangovers, or because the waves washing over the back of the boat kept knocking us on our asses. Andrea and I conspired to use Jedi mind tricks to persuade the captain otherwise, but he was already consumed by the Dark side, and our effort was wasted. So we wait.
Larry gave me a tour of the engine room and water desalination system. He was really well informed and seemed grateful that the captain wasn‚t around, yelling obscenities at him. However, he broke out in a sweat when I asked about the blood stained manacles hanging from the ceiling, and rushed me out on deck. No wonder this room is soundproof.
Finally in the water, in challenging surf, loading onto zodiacs for the short hop to the drop zone, and in we rolled. Immediately surrounded by tons of fish, and sharks by the barrel full! The second dive was the same, if anything, even more sharks. The extra weight I put on this week from the food and endless snacks was beginning to worry me, in the presence of so many predators. Luckily I was bigger than most of them.
Conditions are such that we will be relocating back to the Boiler tonight, where the party is just getting‚ started, and mantas are all naked. As interesting as this volcanic rock and its marine life have been, we long for the sweet embrace of mantas again. It’s been an eye opener, out here in the middle of nowhere with this barren volcanic rock looming over us, a sense of isolation flows in. I have seldom felt so at peace, so rested, so well cared for. I’m trying to think of a humorous segue, but it seems unnecessary. Like lipstick on a manta.
April 29
Just made the overnight ride back to San Benedicto. I got yelled at first thing this morning, because the crew doesn’t allow anyone on deck when they’re unloading the boats, and I was too numb to understand what they were saying. Tony was foaming at the mouth and throwing lead weights at me until I retreated to the passenger deck. Only required about 7 stitches. He throws like a little girl. My mother has drawn more blood from me!
We hit the water around 800am. To quote Tony, it’s amazing what you can see when there are no mantas around. Lots of small critters; delicate little jellyfish, lots of octopus, so many fish you were bumping into them. Some divers saw a hammerhead, big deal! I see that every morning when I look in the mirror. The octopus was surprisingly laid back, got so close to one with my camera he was French-kissing the lens.
Dive #2 We’re back in manta town! Everyone was diligently observing and photographing the fish and eels and octopi, but when the mantas showed up, it was like a bunch of celebrities just walked into your living room. The stars have arrived, and everyone else is forgotten! Dive 3 was more of the same, mantas circling and diving, mugging for the camera, humping the dive masters. Great!
We were commenting on how amiable and fun this group of divers are, laughing every day, always a joke and a smile. That a boatload of strangers can eat, sleep, and mingle in such close quarters without wholesale slaughter is a testament to good fellowship. The crew made it easier by encouraging us all, by feeding us gourmet meals and snacks, and by keeping the captain locked up with rum in his cabin. The last dive of the trip approaches.
We were getting pretty good at getting in the water quicker than day 1, and had a decent zodiac boarding technique as well. The mantas were there again to wish us a fond farewell. Certainly they will miss us, as they do a thousand others who have passed through their world. Fatigue sets in as we wash and pack up our dive gear. I for one will really miss this place, the marine life, the crew, the jocular divers, even that hook handed, one eyed Cape Bretoner who steered the ship. As this was my first live aboard dive experience, I believe it will always be the best.
Rumor has it the Mexican Navy won’t let us go to Socorro because they had a plane load of port girls flown in.
Marc Dugas
Highlight of the day: observing a bait ball at close quarters (from the surface the divemaster was a bit leery of dropping us into the middle of a feeding frenzy!). After pestering the captain all week he finally relented and allowed us to zodiac out to catch some bait ball action not far from the ship. We arrived a little too late to see the bait ball, but a pod of dolphin played around for a while and we got some good footage with the GoPro. On the way back the captain radioed in another ball even closer to the ship, this time we were in the middle of the frenzy, with yellow tail leaping from the water, frigates and boobies diving from the air, all after a school of some strange (as yet un-identified) little red bait fish. Cool!
Tom

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